Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crossing into Panama

Once the break was over and the group was back together on its way to Bocas del Toro, Panama, I was so excited for what the next part of the semester held. As someone who loves swimming, marine life, and the ocean, our trip to Bocas was something I had been greatly anticipating. After crossing the border into Panama and getting our new passport stamps, which everyone was all excited about, we continued our route to the biological station. Our 40 minute boat ride to the station was a bit bumpy, but also beautiful as we passed some spectacular beach area, some dense forest, and of course lots of water.
After settling in and enjoying the lovely hammocks scattered around the station, the next morning we got right into the water bright and early. The water was a fantastic temperature, almost crystal clear, and had some beautiful reef area. I had snorkeled several times before coming to Panama, but I had never been able to snorkel for almost a week straight everyday. Everyday is was difficult to leave that perfect blue water. Along with having the opportunity to do some free exploration in the water, we also had the opportunity to be a part of a faculty led project in which we ran several experiments and did several observations on Damselfish in the water. Working in the water everyday and being apart of the coral reef research made me really interested in the field and gave me a possible idea for my future studies.
Besides the interesting water experiences, our stay at the station also made me think about some of my ways in terms of conservation. I have always tried to be a person that conserves water, electricity, food, and other things when possible, but at this station I really had to put those ideas into use. Since the station was quite isolated and almost self sustaining, it depended on its non-drinking water to come from the rain, but since Bocas was considered to be in a drought for 3 weeks, the water was very limited and we really had to watch our use. It was a bit difficult at first because coming from the northeast US, which doesn’t typically experience droughts, I really had to think about what I was doing. This made me experience resource depletion, in a way, first hand and it really put things into perspective for me. When leaving the station, the director told us that we had used the least amount of water than any group he had seen and that was something to be proud of. Although this was just a small station off the grid that depended on rainwater, it showed me that resources can change in an instant and we should always be conserving, not just water, whenever we can, because we never know what could happen. 
Shannon Law-Clark
Providence College

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